Consumer opinions about security are shifting as new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), enter the marketplace.
Studies increasingly show the impact of security breaches on average people. As many as 25% of people have experienced some kind of identity theft.
When you start to build a website for your small business, you have to ensure that your customers’ data is protected and that your company is secured against cyber attacks and data breaches.
Adequate defense of your business from malicious code is extremely difficult to achieve, especially when that code has been designed to destroy your infrastructure and allow cybercriminals to access your data, steal it, and sell it to the highest bidder on the black market.
With so many different forms of attack, it can be confusing to know where to begin, but one strategy every business should use is to protect their customers through a Secure Sockets Layer certificate (SSL).
What exactly is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate ensures that content provided to users originates from the correct sender – thus making communications through computer networks far more secure.
For example, if you are using an online service like Netflix, Amazon, or Google, an SSL certificate can ensure that you are confident you are using the right service, and not a fake one. Because of this, including an SSL in your business plan should be essential, as it helps to verify who you are to your customers.
In order to obtain certain (and reputable) SSL certificates, companies have to be thoroughly vetted before they will be allowed to display the certificate on their webpages and provide a secure connection.
Why use SSL certification?
While you should also maintain other channels of communication with customers for convenience and security, protecting and combining your business communications over the Internet will always be key, especially as online communication becomes more frequent.
Consumers have come to expect their sensitive information to be secure when they are shopping online. By displaying an SSL certification to your customers, you are telling them that your business takes security seriously and you are taking steps to protect them from identity theft.
Not only does this help to protect you from a data breach, but it is also essential for building customer trust. While this may increase costs, most providers offer a verified SSL certificate typically at a low cost or free.
Alongside this, consider that failing to use a certification can lead to being penalized by search engines. Google has specifically stated that they have been testing to see whether secure sites tend to rank higher in searches. When they did, they started using HTTPS and SSL as a ranking signal. While this won’t be a primary ranking factor, they have suggested it will become more important over time.
How to get an SSL certification
Every SSL company has a different approach for verifying a website, so your first step should always be getting background information about the company or Certification Authority (CA) that will be providing your SSL. You’ll want to see what their vetting process is and read reviews from other businesses so that you’re sure you’re being protected by a credible source.
Once you have decided on using a reputable provider, you will request certification and pay for it. After the payment is completed, the CA will then begin the process of verifying your website. The amount of time this takes can vary, but approval usually takes around an hour. The time taken depends on the complexity of your business and the encryption required.
Once the certificate is paid for and approved, you can install it and secure your website behind the new web protocol.
How do you check to see if a website is SSL protected?
When customer data is spread across emails, payments, data, and login information, users need to feel that their data is safe with secure encryption methods.
While there may be vulnerabilities on their side, such as using a poorly secured browser, it builds confidence if they know you’ve taken steps to protect your organization and their data. Users also want to be sure that any website that they visit and use to make purchases has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed to be legitimate.
Here are some methods to check that your page, or another company’s, is SSL protected:
- A padlock symbol will appear on the far left side of the browser bar. If this symbol is broken or absent, this indicates the page is not secured by an SSL. This symbol can be clicked and it will provide more information about the company that is connected to the website.
- The URL will begin with “https”, which indicates that users are securely connected. HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) was the old standard for websites, and the addition of S indicates the increased level of security. This is essential when websites are transmitting sensitive information such as credit card details, especially when your website is built on vulnerable platforms.
- The address bar will sometimes have a green background color that indicates it has gone through additional layers of vetting. This is typically referred to as extended validation.
Small business owners have multiple reasons to install SSL certificates as part of their overall plan to mitigate cybersecurity risks. If they are taking payments online, they want to make sure they limit the risk of a data breach by making sure payments take place over a secure connection.
Even if your business doesn’t handle payments online, securing your employee’s connections helps to ensure business-critical data isn’t at risk of being stolen in a data breach. By installing an SSL, you help to keep your business network and customers safe – a move that will improve trust in your company and keep your business secure from cybersecurity threats.